Tag Archive for ethnomusicology

5 Questions With . . . Eric Charry on Ethnomusicology, Culture

Eric Charry, associate professor of music, is the project director of the Ethnomusicology and Global Culture Summer Institute. (Photo by Bill Tyner '13)

This issue we ask “5 Questions” of Eric Charry, associate professor of music. Charry, an expert on African music, is currently directing the Ethnomusicology and Global Culture Summer Institute at Wesleyan.

Q: Professor Charry, as an associate professor of music, what are your areas of musical expertise and what classes do you teach at Wesleyan?

A: Most of my research and writing until recently has been in the area of African music, specifically, the West African region where Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea and Mali meet. I spent two years in the region learning to play the kora (harp), balafon (xylophone), and jembe (drum). My office is filled with these instruments and I occasionally use them for an ensemble course (Mande Music Ensemble). More recently I have picked up on earlier musical interests and am working an a book on the emergence of an avant garde in jazz in the 1950s and 60s as well as a related book on music in downtown New York during these two decades. I teach an FYI on the latter topic and our field trip walking around New York is always a highlight for everyone. I see a lot of Wesleyan students passing through my large History of Rock and R&B course, and I’m working on a text that I can use in the class, something like a concise history, that will address my needs, without the gratuitous filler chatter. Many of my most interesting musical experiences have come out of hearing student projects in that class. The diversity and depth of creative work cuts across campus in really fascinating, and often hilarious (to us all) ways. The projects are open to the public. Next spring I’ll be teaching a seminar on global hip hop.

Q: You’re the project director of the Ethnomusicology and Global Culture Summer Institute, which is ongoing at Wesleyan through July 1. (View photos of the institute here.) Who sponsors the event, and what are some of the topics addressed throughout the two weeks?

A: Several years the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM) wanted to make a push on several fronts to raise the profile of our field. They put out a call for proposals to host a summer institute. Several of us in the Music Department responded and they selected us, in part due to our successful hosting of the annual SEM meeting at Wesleyan in 2008 (over 1000 members attended). SEM and Wesleyan’s Music Department made a joint proposal to the National Endowment for the Humanities and we were fully funded to invite 22 college and university teachers and 3 graduate students here for two week to study recent developments in ethnomusicology with an eye toward enhancing teaching in the humanities. The participants (they’re properly called NEH Summer Scholars) receive a stipend, which is providing a small stimulus to our Main St. restaurants! They are all staying at 200 Church St., and seem to have blended in with local frat culture, although perhaps slightly tamer. The overriding theme of global culture allows us to address a broad spectrum of musics from around the world. We’re especially interested in musics that have moved in one way or another across the globe. Full details about the event, including biographies, are on our web site.

Q: Who teaches the summer institute?

A: The core faculty members are myself, Mark Slobin and Su Zheng. Mark Slobin is the Richard K. Winslow Professor of Music, and is one of the most prolific and respected scholars in our field. He is a past president of the Society for Ethnomusicology and the Society for Asian Music, past editor of Asian Music journal and past Chair of the Music Department. Su Zheng is an associate professor of music

7 Wesleyan Students Receive Fulbright Fellowships

A Ph.D candidate and six recent graduates received Fulbright Fellowships for the 2011-12 academic year.

Aaron Paige, a Ph.D. student in ethnomusicology, has received a Fulbright Fellowship to support his dissertation fieldwork in Malaysia, as well as a research grant from the Society for Asian Music to support research in Chennai, India. The dissertation project, “From Kuala Lumpur to Kollywood: Music, Language, and Identity in Tamil Solisai,” involves multi-sited ethnography and will trace the various meanings of Tamil hip-hop as it travels within and between local, national, and transnational spaces. Paige’s work will take him to Chennai in the summer and fall and to Malaysia for an extended visit starting in late 2011.

William Krieger ’11 received a Fulbright Fellowship for one year’s study and research in Germany.

Benjamin LaFirst ’11, Alaina Aristide ’11, Kaitlin Martin ’11, Alessandra Stachowski ’11 and Alison Cies ’11 received Fulbright English-Teaching Assistantships. LaFirst will teach in Austria; Aristide will teach in Argentina; Martin will teach in Russia; and Stachowski will teach in Brazil. Cies declined her assistantship to teach in South Korea.

Teaching assistantships in Argentina and Brazil are highly competitive, with 7:1 odds for Argentina and 10:1 for Brazil.

The Fulbright Program, sponsored by the United States Department of State and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is the largest U.S. international exchange program offering opportunities for students, scholars, and professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and teaching in elementary and secondary schools worldwide.

It was established in 1946 by the U.S. Congress to “enable the government of the United States to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.”

Graduate Student Wins Grant for Work on Televised Puppetry

Po-wei Weng, a Ph.D. candidate in Wesleyan’s ethnomusicology program, has won a $15,000 grant to support his dissertation work on a popular Taiwanese Puppet television series. Competing with applicants from all disciplines and many top colleges in the United States, Weng was this year the only person from the music studies field to win an award from the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange. His dissertation project is “Music, Technology, and Mediated Modernity: Soundscape of Pili Budaixi in Taiwan.” Currently in Taiwan, Weng returns to Middletown in August.

Sumarsam’s Essay Published in Indonesian Music, Islam Book

Sumarsam, University Professor of Music, is the author of the essay, “Past and Present Issues of Islam within the Central Javanese Gamelan and Wayang,” published in Divine Inspirations: Music and Islam in Indonesia by Oxford University Press, pages 45-79, in 2011.

According to the abstract: “Sumarsam’s contribution to the volume addresses Islam in the context and development of the Javanese gamelan and wayang kulit shadow play. The chapter uniquely combines the interpretation of primarily Javanese and European texts, the author’s personal experience as teacher, performer, and practitioner of gamelan and wayang kulit, and a assessment of the public attitudes of the two largest Islamic organizations, Muhammadiyah and Nadhlatul Ulama, towards the arts.”

Sumarsam, Alumni Attend Indonesian Studies Conference

Sumarsam, University Professor of Music

Sumarsam MA ’76, University Professor of Music, participated in an ethnomusicology panel during the State of Indonesian Studies Conference April 28 at Cornell University. Sumarsam spoke on “Javanese Music Historiography: The Lost Gamelan of Gresik.”

The interdisciplinary conference focused on Indonesia’s anthropology, art history, history, language, government and ethnomusicology. Marc Perlman MA ’78, Ph.D. ’94, associate professor at Brown University; Martin Hatch ’63, MA’69, associate professor at Cornell University; Kaja McGowan ’82, associate professor at Cornell; and Christopher Miller MA ’02, a Wesleyan ethnomusicology Ph.D. candidate, also participated in the conference.

The conference was hosted by Cornell’s Southeast Asian Program.



Doctoral Students Present Papers at Ethnomusicology Convention

Music department doctoral students presented papers at the Society for Ethnomusicology’s annual convention in Los Angeles, Nov. 10-14. The students presented were Hae-joo Kim, Aaron Paige, Jorge Arevalo Mateus Po-wei Weng, and Min Yang. Kim, Paige and Weng were on a panel chaired by the Rochard K. Winslow Professor of Music Mark Slobin, on global film music analysis.

Smithsonian Acquires Music by Arévalo Mateus

Jorge Arevalo Mateus

Ethnomusicology Ph.D candidate Jorge Arévalo Mateus’ musical score and sound collage for Native artists James Luna’s (Luiseño) installation, “Chapel for Pablo Tac,” was recently acquired by the Smithsonian Institution-National Museum of the American Indian, as part of the museum’s permanent collection of contemporary art. The multimedia work will appear in the upcoming exhibition Vantage Point: The Contemporary Native Art Collection, in Washington, D.C., Sept. 25 to Aug. 7, 2011.

Arévalo Mateus describes the work as a “composite of historical and contemporary source musical elements brought together to sonically demonstrate and elucidate Luna’s ritual of renewal.”

He adds, “the ‘compositional process’ was intended to reflect issues of repatriation and recuperation of indigenous cultures, as well as confronting nationalist and colonialist ideologies.”

Music, Fire-Spinning Kick-Off CFA Season

Funk/reggae/dub band Buru Style, blues rock band Linus and fire-spinning dancers Prometheus performed Sept. 10 in Center for the Arts Courtyard at the CFA’s season kick-off. Pictured, Buru Style’s Andrew Fogliano '09 performs on flute, and Tim Boucher from Northampton, Mass. plays sousaphone.

NEH Supports Charry’s Ethnomusicology Institute

Eric Charry, associate professor of music, received a $115,117 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, to support a Summer Institute in Ethnomusicology June 20-July 1, 2011 at Wesleyan. The Society of Ethnomusicology will oversee the institute, which will be attended by 22 college instructors and three graduate students. Wesleyan hosted a similar conference in 2008.

Joseph Getter: Educator, Instrumentalist, Ph.D Candidate in Ethnomusicology

Joseph Getter, a Ph.D candidate in ethnomusicology, performs on a frame drum during the Art Farm Sonnet Slam in Middletown. Getter is the music director of Art Farm's summer Shakespeare production. He studies classical South Indian flute and Javanese gamelan at Wesleyan. (Photo by Jody Cormack Ph.D. '92, library assistant in World Music Archives).

Q: Joseph, you are a Ph.D candidate in ethnomusicology. How many years have you been at Wesleyan and when will you finish your Ph.D?

A: I began my graduate studies in ethnomusicology at Wesleyan in the M.A. program in 1995, and don’t you know you’re not supposed to ask when the dissertation will be done? I’m anticipating finishing this summer.

Q: What are you studying, specifically?

A: I have done fieldwork in Chennai, India, on the film music industry there. It’s a huge musical, social, and economic phenomenon that is under-studied in academia. I hope that my dissertation will be a contribution to understanding popular music in South Asia. I’ve also studied classical South Indian flute and Javanese gamelan at Wesleyan.

Q: What are your thoughts on Wesleyan’s ethnomusicology program?

A:  It’s a fantastic program that integrates the study of scholarly literature with learning to perform music traditions from around the world. In seminars with Mark Slobin and Su Zheng, I learned about how to conduct research, and think, write and speak about